A Brief History

The library has been serving the community since 1868 when it was housed at the high school–town hall building.  At that time the library housed 817 volumes and was open one hour per week.  As the Town developed, the demand for more books and library services necessitated a larger facility. In 1900, Henry Oliver Underwood announced his intention to memorialize his parents with the gift of a new town library building.  The Underwood library opened in 1902 and is currently the School Administration Building.  By 1955 the building held more than twice the number of books that it was built to contain. By 1960, the possibility of a new library at a new site was under discussion and in 1962 Town Meeting supported procurement of the present site on Concord Avenue.  The Memorial Library was dedicated on November 1, 1965.  Today the Memorial library continues to serve the community. Belmont residents have always demonstrated a strong demand for library services.  Even though the population holds steady, the Library’s circulation continues to increase yearly, having risen from a circulation of 288,151 in 1989 to a circulation in excess of 550,000 in 2009.  With such high annual circulation figures, Belmont continues to be ranked among the most heavily used libraries in its population group, which includes fifty-three other Massachusetts communities.